Len Tantillo's painting of the de Forest / Montagne bouwrie based on documents describing the structure in detail.
Arrived in New Amsterdam 1636
Jean Mousnier de la Montagne (Johannes La Montagne) was born in France in 1596 and died in New Netherland in 1672. His family, being of the Protestant faith, moved to Holland to avoid persecution, where in 1619 La Montagne enrolled as a medical student at the University of Leiden.
On 25 September 1636, now a physician, Dr. Johannes de la Montagne sailed for New Netherland with his wife and three children on the ship the Rensselaerswyck, owned jointly by the patroon Kiliaen Van Rensselaer and by Gerard DeForest, a relative of his wife. La Montagne's medical education, ability to speak French, Dutch, and English, and family connections made him a leader in New Amsterdam, where he served as First Councilor to both Director Kieft and Director-General Stuyvesant. He was Commander of the troops on Manhattan Island (1640-1656), a member of the 1653 popular convention to demand governmental reform in New Amsterdam, and a commissioner of fortifications of the city in 1654. He played an important role in several commissions to negotiate peace with the Indians.
“The First Family of Central Park,” by Sara Cedar Miller from her forthcoming book (May, 2022) Before Central Park
In 1637, Walloon brothers Hendrick and Isaac de Forest, got permission from the Dutch West India Company to move far from the tiny downtown settlement of New Amsterdam to what would become a 200-acre (100 morgen) tobacco bouwerie, today located in the northern end of Central Park and central Harlem. Before Central Park explains why the de Forests chose to farm the unique this area and how the topography in Central Park still retains much of the family’s original site.
Soon after the de Forests begin planting, Dr. Johannes de la Montagne, a Leiden-trained medical doctor, arrived in New Amsterdam with his wife Rachel de Forest and their five children. When Hendrick dies, brother-in-law Montagne took over the farm and the homestead. For centuries many of the Harlem landscapes were named for him: Montagne’s Flats (today central Harlem), Montagne’s Point (today East Harlem) and Montagne’s Rivulet, a stream running through the northern end of Central Park.
Before Central Park tells the fascinating story of this important family and the fledgling settlement of Harlem. Montagne was appointed councilor to the powerful Willem Kieft and Peter Stuyvesant, and became embroiled in what became known as “Kieft’s War,” leading to the massacre of thousands of native Lenape and Dutch men, women and children in the 1640s.
Artist Len Tantillo has generously created a painting of the de Forest/Montagne bouwerie based on documents that describe the structure in detail. See above.
Sara Cedar Miller is the historian emerita of the Central Park Conservancy and has been a staff member since 1984. She holds an M.A. in art history and an M.F.A. in photography. She lives in New York.
See Emily J. de Forest, a "Walloon Family in America, Vol. 1 ", p. 80
Below is also a link for Volume II:
and Van Rensselaer Bowier MSS, pp. 323, 328, 360